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Milwaukee - One Bite at a Time

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By Bill Prange
Web Marketing Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

I love to eat.

I also love exploring our city and hearing stories about the people and places that make Milwaukee amazing.

I combined these passions on a recent Historic Third Ward tour led by Milwaukee Food Tours. Milwaukee Food Tours offer the perfect pairing – a chance to explore several of Milwaukee’s historic neighborhoods while sampling the flavors of some of Milwaukee’s best restaurants along the way.

The Soup & Stock Market at the popular Milwaukee Public Market made for a delicious beginning. Their made-from-scratch soups did not disappoint. My chicken and dumpling had plenty of hearty chunks of chicken, celery and carrots. My tour partner, Zack, opted for the perfectly-seasoned minestrone that “almost tasted like pizza.”

Liquid ‘za? Oh yeah!

As we ate, our guide told us stories about the Market vendors - what brought them to Milwaukee and to the Market. This theme continued throughout the tour – not only did we taste great food, we learned the inside story about the people behind the food.

Milwaukee’s Riverwalk led us to our second stop – Rustico Pizzeria.

Rustico is a mix of old-world Italian and modern art and style. The walls are lined with photos taken by the owner during his travels to Italy. You’ll also find a vintage press that once belonged to his grandfather. Italians and family go together like….tomato and mozzarella.

Speaking of, we totally enjoyed Rustico’s Margherita pizza – made of tomato, mozzarella and basil, representing Italy’s three national colors. It was named in Naples, Italy after Queen Margherita of Savoy – lunch and learn, what a concept! Rustico makes its crust using flour imported from Italy and the mozzarella is stretched on site. Abbondanza!

Next up we visited a former sewing and knitting factory, now known as SPiN Milwaukee. It’s a great example of how the Historic Third Ward’s turn-of-the-century buildings have been repurposed for 21st century lifestyles!

SPiN Milwaukee is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Great food, a bar area AND a dozen-plus table tennis tables inside that you can rent by the hour. Score!

We started with some awesome, fresh sweet potato chips - light and fresh with chipotle brown sugar seasoning. I could have grazed on those all day.

An out-of-the-ordinary grilled cheese sandwich took my mind off the empty bowl of chips. Pepperjack and smoked gouda, roasted red peppers and avocado, with some sriracha mayo on a French bolo roll. Amazing!

Tulip, our fourth restaurant of the day, specializes in Turkish food. I’m game for anything and that turned out to be chicken shish kebabs and grape leaves. The grape leaves were different for me but I’m glad I tried them. It’s the kind of place that made me curious to come back and try some other things on the menu.

It wouldn’t be a meal without dessert and lucky for us ours was courtesy of the Milwaukee Cupcake Company. Looking over all the choices, I’ve gotta admit, there was a lot I wanted to try! Red velvet, vanilla salted caramel, peanut butter cup… this was decadence overload!

I finally settled on “The Riverwest,” a chocolate cupcake with chopped Oreo cookies, topped with Oreo buttercream and a chunk of cookie. Zack grabbed “The Third Ward,” a chocolate cupcake with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup chunks baked in, topped with peanut butter buttercream, chocolate drizzle and a chunk of a Reese’s Cup on top.

I finished the tour a happy man with a satisfied stomach and a full-blown sugar rush.

Sweets make me thirsty. I wonder if they have room on the next Bloody Mary Brunch tour…?


Details:
Milwaukee Food Tours

(800) 979-3370

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Vive Milwaukee!

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By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
VISIT Milwaukee



A people in a state of revolution is invincible.
Maximin Isnard, French Revolutionary, France, 1791

A people in a state of celebration is a party.
Jeannine Sherman, Tourism Gal, Milwaukee, 2011

The City of Beer does a pretty good imitation of the City of Love every year in July. That’s when we turn Cathedral Square Park in Milwaukee’s East Town neighborhood into Bastille Days, North America’s largest, outdoor, French-themed festival.

This year the fest turns 30 and to celebrate organizers are inviting everyone down for a French toast. Literally. They’ll be handing out 3,030 sticks of French toast to “toast” three Francophile-filled decades.

I love everything about Bastille Days, beginning with the Storm the Bastille fun run that kicks off the festival’s opening night. The run commemorates the event that became a flashpoint in the French revolution when peasants rioted and took over the infamous prison.

It’s different because it’s a night run with a 9 p.m. start. I leave my iPod at home and enjoy the rhythm of thousands of pairs of running shoes hitting the streets. The run takes you through several of downtown’s historic neighborhoods, past sidewalk cafes and local watering holes. Don’t be surprised by the loud and frequent cheers of support along the way – it’s crowd participation at its best!

The icon of Bastille Days is a 43-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica. It serves as a meeting spot, a photo opportunity and the perfect place to steal a kiss or two. Hey, when in France……

When you’re not busy munching on beignets or sipping Chardonnay, you can enjoy the exploits of roaming street performers, shop the marketplace and listen to local, regional and national bands on four stages. 2011 headliners include Grammy-award-winning Cajun band Beausoleil with Michael Doucet.

What else is fun to do at Bastille Days? Last year I took advantage of the mini French lessons offered at the fest and 15 minutes later I parlayed my newfound knowledge into a clever and slightly risqué comment – in Francais, mais oui! - during the French Can Can performance.

I had my picture taken in front of a French back drop so I could fool all my Facebook friends. “Thinking of you….from Provence.” I checked out the Chef’s Wine and Cheese demos for the perfect pairings of some of my favorite French imports. I cheered on the participants in the Waiter/Waitress Race while they ran through a crazy obstacle course carrying full glasses of wine! Quelle horreur!

Did I mention the cute beret I bought at the marketplace? C’est si bon!  

I stuffed myself with Steak Frites and toasted Solomon Juneau, a French Canadian fur trader who helped found Milwaukee and became our first Mayor (with champagne, not toast – a girl’s gotta watch her carbs).  Moved by the spirit of equality embodied in the Democratic ideals of the French Revolution, I also toasted the Jesuit missionary and explorer Pere Marquette, who left his mark here as well.

He deserved it.  And quite frankly, I needed an excuse to sample the Pinot Noir.

I’m going to confess something. I couldn’t leave without sticking my tongue out at a mime. It’s okay. He wasn’t able to chase me because he was really busy trying to get out of the imaginary box he had drawn himself into. I knew I could atone by attending the authentic French Mass held in St. John the Evangelist Cathedral.

Or by convincing Mr. “I Want to be Marcel Marceau” to join me in a raucous Can Can that would put the ladies of the Moulin Rouge to shame.

Which did I choose?

C’est un secret, mais oui.


Details: Bastille Days 2011, July 14 – 17, Cathedral Square in Milwaukee’s East Town. Free admission, street parking.

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Cheers to a Brewers game-day experience!

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By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

With a nickname like Brew City, in a town made famous by the likes of Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst and Miller, it seems only fitting VISIT Milwaukee serves up a blog dedicated to the one word synonymous with Milwaukee: beer. Milwaukee may not be the king of keg production as it once was, but it dares any other city to rival its beer-related fun. From bowling to baseball, fish fries to festivals, Milwaukeeans know how to say CHEERS TO MILWAUKEE!   

Where better to begin than in a stadium named after beer that hosts a baseball team named the Brewers with a capacity to hold more than 46,000 cheering fans: Miller Park.

Attending a game at Miller Park doesn’t mean being fashionably late in the third inning. A Brewers game-day experience starts several hours before game time with a Miller Park tour, which covers over half a mile of behind-the-scenes fun. For a mere $10, you get to stroll like royalty through the bowels of the stadium to places like the visitors’ clubhouse and dugout, a luxury suite, the press box and the Gehl Club, an upscale, 9,000-square-foot mega-suite. This tour leaves little to chance, but also leaves you thirsting for more baseball…and a beer or two.

As chance would have it, you exit the stadium to tailgating heaven. Miller Park’s lots, which open three hours before each game, boast 12,600 spots and they’re all perfect once you set up the grill, start the coals and open your favorite beer. Rain or shine, Brewers fans set up shop and partake in a treasured pastime. Our game-day weather included rain and shine, producing an awesome rainbow that seemed to originate from inside Miller Park – a sure sign the Brew Crew was going to be golden that night. 

After the last brat is claimed and the grill’s fire is reduced to a smolder, it’s time to head in. On the way, take a stroll past the Brewers Walk of Fame located on the plaza area on the northwest side of the stadium. Starting near the statues of Robin Yount and Henry Aaron, each inductee is honored with a granite-shaped home plate set in the ground – the perfect spot for a few snapshots.

Once you’re inside and past the concourse, fresh Miller Lite in hand, you’ll head to the seating area and gaze out on the plush green field. But you’ll realize the real star is the massive retractable roof - North America's only fan-shaped convertible variety - which can open and close in less than 10 minutes. A modern engineering marvel, the roof ensures EVERY scheduled baseball game is played – rain or shin…and sometimes sleet.

On our fateful night, the Brewers found their lucky charm in the home run ball, banging out three rainbow-arching solo shots to beat the Reds 3-2. Many a beer was raised to their win. And to Milwaukee.

 

   

   
Miller Park info:
http://milwaukee.brewers.mlb.com/mil/ballpark/index.jsp

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Does my blog make me look fat?

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By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
VISIT Milwaukee

Yes. Yes it does.

Jimmy Crack Corn and I don’t care.

I’m not disputing the rush that comes with being able to button a size-2 pair of jeans and continue normal breathing. But what’s life without a treat now and then? Good behavior, rewarded in moderation, never hurt anybody.

That’s exactly what I remind myself when I’m THIS CLOSE to purchasing the entire stock of cake bites at C. Adam’s Bakery in the Milwaukee Public Market. These are amazing, decadent and indulgent – I’m partial to the Red Velvet variety – and small enough to qualify as “guilt-free.”

C. Adam’s is one of several vendors at the Milwaukee Public Market that do their best to satisfy my inner foodie. The Market brings gourmet, specialty and organic food to Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward, a neighborhood of former turn-of-the century warehouses turned into upscale lofts, trendy boutiques, and eclectic art galleries. The Market is cool because it’s a modern version of the area’s old Commission Row, a street lined with historic buildings framed by metal awnings where farmers used to bring their produce to sell to local distributors. While the farmers are long gone, the street remains, now turned into a strand of sidewalk cafes and some of my favorite places in the city to relax over a glass of wine or a pint of what made Milwaukee famous.

Even Frommers.com is impressed! They rated the Milwaukee Public Market as one of the top ten public markets in the U.S. in 2011 – high praise, indeed!

What else is worth busting my buttons for at the Market? Just about everything. I’m a huge fan of the home-made, hand-dipped chocolates and frozen custard at Kehr’s Candies (that’s right, I’ve got a sweet tooth. What’s it to you?)

When I can’t get to the East Coast I can walk three blocks from my office to the Market and get a fresh lobster dinner at St. Paul Fish Company or catch it raw at Sushi-A-Go-Go. On the days my favorite pants don’t fit I atone at The Green Kitchen with a fresh, hand-tossed salad made to order. When I’ve had enough salad to fit into the afore-mentioned pants, I can splurge with a visit to the West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shop or Taste of Wisconsin. Two hundred + varieties of cheese… yum.

See? No matter what your scale, pocket-book or conscience is telling you, there’s something for everyone.

You’ll find custom-blended spices courtesy of The Spice House, seven, delicious, made-from-scratch soups daily at The Soup & Stock Market, flavors of the Middle East at Aladdin, amazing salads, sandwiches and meats at Rupena’s Fine Foods and the kind of bread that would make a believer out of Dr. Atkins at Breadsmith.

For the tired, there is java from Cedarburg Coffee Roastery. For the celebratory, there is Margarita Paradise, Thief Wine Shop & Bar and Buffalo Water Beer Bar. And if you’re just looking to make someone happy, Locker’s at the Market is the place to buy a stand-out bouquet or a single, lovely blossom.

The Market has a great din, with a lot of color, energy and bustle, which spills onto the streets every Saturday June through October when an outdoor Farmer’s Market is added to the mix. If you fancy yourself a chef, you need to check out the cooking classes at Madame Kuony’s Kitchen on the Market’s upper level. Whether you’re more likely to star in Worst Cooks in America, Top Chef or somewhere in between, you’ll have a blast and come home with a whole new set of impressive kitchen skills!

Wow. All that writing has made me hungry.

Cake bite, anyone?

 

Details: For information on hours, cooking classes, outdoor Farmer’s Market and more, go to www.milwaukeepublicmarket.org.

 

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I’m In:  Frank Lloyd Wright

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By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
VISIT Milwaukee

The architect must be a prophet... a prophet in the true sense of the term... if he can't see at least ten years ahead don't call him an architect.

Frank Lloyd Wright

The Milwaukee Art Museum is the perfect setting for Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century. The exhibit celebrates the 100th anniversary of Taliesin, Wright’s home, studio and school in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and the 10th anniversary of another architectural wonder, the Museum’s Quadracci Pavilion, designed by noted Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. 

This is a total Wright immersion, with more than 150 works including many drawings that have never been publicly exhibited, scale models, furniture, photography and rare video footage of Wright with his family and students at Taliesin.

It’s one thing to appreciate genius. It’s another thing to stand beside it.

Wright’s drawings are amazing – at once simple yet sophisticated, detailed yet clean-lined, delicate yet purposeful. There are also some unexpected surprises. My favorites include the 1958 “LivingCity” complete with space-age cars and flying saucer-style airplanes and the early 1900s LarkinBuilding. There is no better way to illustrate Wright’s 21st century vision than the juxtaposition of horse and carriage parked in front of this modern-day office building.

If you’ve never been to S.C. Johnson in Racine, get ready for the next best thing – a cool scale model. Wright’s flair for the organic is found not only in the way he designed buildings to complement their natural setting. It extends to indoor spaces as well, right down to the individual bud bases on the desks he created for the building’s Great Workroom.

Other highlights include a scale model of “The Illinois,” a mile-high skyscraper concept complete with 15,000 parking spaces and heliport and a 1930s scale model of BroadacreCity. This urban utopia was Wright’s answer to overcrowded cities and ugly suburban sprawl.  “A city that is everywhere but nowhere” is how he defined his ideal of decentralization. Because of its fragile nature this will likely be the last chance to see it. 

If you’re like me, you’ll get lost in the video of Wright’s well-known Fallingwater. This private residence was built around a waterfall and the images in this four- season survey speak volumes about Wright’s love of the natural world. The exhibit also features Wright’s houses of worship and his energy efficient, affordable Usonian homes.

It’s an amazing journey through nearly seven decades of exceptional design by an architect who literally changed the American landscape. 

Early in life, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance, and have seen no occasion to change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Frank Lloyd Wright

Wright on, Frank. Wright on.

 

Details: Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century runs now through May 15. Milwaukee Art Museum hours: Tues. – Sun. 10 – 5; Thurs. 10 – 8. Don’t miss the exhibit’s gift shop. Where else are you going to find a Fallingwater Lego set for that budding architect?

 

 

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I’m In:  Valentine’s Day

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By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
VISIT Milwaukee

I’m In

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, The Daily Beast shows Milwaukee some serious affection, including it among its 50 Best Cities for Love. This popular website published by Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, “ranks the cities where love’s promise is most profound, from abundant singles to happy couples to romantic ambience.”

Air kisses, Tina!

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, traveled to Italy, India and Indonesia to find a soulmate. Maybe a passport to romance was closer to home than she imagined. Gilbert, in town for a recent book signing, says of Milwaukee "It's on my Top Five of the big-shocker cities that if you're not from around there you have no idea how cool they are. The place is fantastic. I could totally see living there. The architecture. The magnitude of these deep industrial buildings being repurposed and the lake. I'm a big fan."

Thanks, Elizabeth! And I could totally see Milwaukee as the setting for your next New York Times bestseller! Call me for a city tour. I’ve got connections.

 I’m not surprised these ladies are crushin’ on my home town. Think about it. It’s actually got all the qualities people lie about so they can score a date in the first place.

We’re naturally beautiful. Those photos on the web site? Those are really Milwaukee. We’re not putting up pics of some other city just to get you to come here and then you find yourself standing in the middle of a brownfield. We’ve got a Great Lake for a backyard! And a river running right through the middle of downtown! Travel & Leisure loves our RiverWalk so much they ranked it third among their Top Ten Coolest River Walks in the U.S.

    We’re easy – in a good way. Forbes Magazine named us second on the list of America’s Most Relaxed Cities. We beat out other large metros because of a healthy balance between work and life. Let’s be honest. This is important. Who wants to hang with someone who’s uptight all the time?

We’re entertaining. Men’s Health named Milwaukee number four on its “10 Best Places to Party in the U.S.” list - right after Las Vegas, New York City and Miami. It makes perfect sense. We gave the world its largest music festival, Summerfest, and an impressive lineup of the nation’s biggest ethnic fests. And we practically invented beer.

      

I have absolutely no proof to back up that last statement. Although travel web site TripAdvisor ranked Lakefront Brewery number four in the nation on its list of Top Brewery Tours. That’s gotta count for something. 

We’re textured – a quick stroll through downtown reveals a place with a lot of personality. I think the New York Times pretty much nailed it.  “The area still appreciates its beer and bratwurst: delis carry a mind-boggling variety of sausage, and bars are known to have 50-plus brands of brew. But Milwaukee also has 95 miles of bike lanes, lush parks lacing the shores of Lake Michigan and a revitalized riverfront where sophisticated shops coexist within sight of the city’s industrial past.”

We’re real, which means we don’t put on airs. We know when to mind our p’s and q’s, and when to loosen up a button or three. That’s why we’re home to what web site Virtualtourist calls the Sexiest Building in the World, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Quadracci Pavilion. Check out this love letter: “it’s somewhere between a glorious yacht, a graceful dove and a modern dancer.” It even rocked the world of Hollywood director Michael Bay, earning a starring role in his next Transformers movie. That’s big-time street cred.

Naturally beautiful, easy, entertaining, textured and real. Now that sounds like the perfect match –the kind of place you could easily grow to love and that you can’t wait to share with all the people you care about.

See you soon, Valentine!

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Super Bowl XLV

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By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
VISIT Milwaukee

I’m In!

Super Bowl XLV is one for the history books.

The Green Bay Packers are world champions and the Lombardi Trophy is coming home. All is right with the world.

Remember in January when I blogged about the local Polar Bear Plunge into Lake Michigan? Back when Super Bowl dreams were little more than crazy talk around a can of Miller Lite and a handful of crushed tortilla chips?

Even then Milwaukeeans knew the importance of showing your true colors. How else do you explain people jumping into freezing water in green and gold string bikinis and Speedos smaller than the average cocktail napkin? That’s pure fan loyalty at its overzealous best.

We never wavered in our commitment. We wore cheeseheads, painted our faces and invested in enough spirit wear to clothe half the small towns in Wisconsin. You could say we took the ball and ran with it.

The Milwaukee Art Museum backed the Pack. It bet Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art the temporary loan of a major artwork based on the outcome of the game. Renoir’s Bathers with Crab is going to look great in the MAM galleries!

The Florentine Opera got in the game by wagering the Pittsburgh Opera it could get more likes on Facebook than they could  – loser poses for a group photo wearing the opposing team’s gear. Milwaukee heard the battle aria and started clicking. I can’t wait to see how Pittsburgh rocks a cheesehead...

Team spirit was off the charts on the ice, too. The Milwaukee Admirals painted their face-off circles green and gold. Eckstein Hall, the home of Marquette University Law School, decked the building out in green and gold lighting that could be seen from the freeway!

There’s no question we back the Pack with the best of them – now let’s get ‘em back. Green Bay, how about showing Milwaukee a little love like in the old days? It’s been way too long since the Green Bay Packers played here. The last regular season home game in Milwaukee’s old County Stadium took place in December 1994 against the Atlanta Falcons. The Packers won 20 – 17.

I know what you’re thinking - Miller Park was built for baseball and there may be issues. But even if the end zones are in the bleachers, we’ll work it out. Our stadium has the only fan-shaped, retractable roof in North America and the Packers are a good dome team. It’s a start. And we can crank that roof open in less than ten minutes flat so you don’t have to worry about the punters kicking too high like in Dallas.

Milwaukee has plenty of Green Bay connections to make the team feel at home. Green Bay’s Hinterland Brewery has a restaurant in the Historic Third Ward. The Pfister Hotel has ties – legend has it that Vince Lombardi borrowed a concierge outfit and hung out near the elevators to nab players staying out past curfew. Speaking of Vince, I bet he ate at Mader’s restaurant. Why? It’s voted the most famous German restaurant in North America. It’s got a Hall of Fame filled with pictures of the famous people they have served. Something tells me he was a Sauerbraten kind of guy.

Lambeau Leap? Got it covered. If the Milwaukee Brewers agree to loan out the Klement’s Racing Sausages and we get some of the engineering students from Milwaukee School of Engineering on board, we can easily figure out how to launch those mascots right over the goal posts. We’ve got the aerodynamic nature of the costume on our side.

If all that’s not convincing enough, how about letting the words of the legend himself do the talking?

We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.
Vince Lombardi

What do you say, Coach McCarthy?

We’re in. Are you?

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I’m In:  Cheap Trick!

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By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
VISIT Milwaukee

I’m In!

 

I try to sleep, they’re wide awake, they won’t let me alone. 

They don’t get paid or take vacations, or let me alone.

They spy on me, I try to hide, they won’t let me alone.

They persecute me, they’re the judge and jury all in one….

 

That’s right. The Dream Police are back and while they may not actually find a way inside your brain you ARE going to be singing this tune until your coworkers hide your iPod.

Trust me. I finally found mine buried underneath a bunch of candy wrappers in the company Suggestion Box.

Dream Police featuring Cheap Trick at Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s Northern Lights Theater is one rockin’ good time. Original band members - singer Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen and bassist Tom Petersson - are joined by The Bombastic Symphonic Philharmonic with The Rhythmic Noise Mind Choir.

Translation? An 18-piece orchestra, horn section and backup singers. Add a slick multimedia production to that and you’ve got one entertaining concert experience.

 At 500 seats, the Northern Lights Theater allows you to get up close and personal with the group who’ve been dubbed “the world’s greatest bar band.” There’s truly not a bad seat in the house. I was totally on board from the moment the lights dimmed and the fog machines enveloped the audience.

Zander proved he can still rock a glam pair of skin tight, white leather pants with the best front men, Nielsen’s too-cute baseball cap and adolescent humor have thankfully survived the last three decades intact and Petersson is stylin’ a crazy, 19th-century-gentleman, Austin Powers meets Andy Warhol vibe that actually really works.

It was almost as much fun to watch these guys having a blast playing the music together as it was listening to the songs that served as a soundtrack to my misspent youth. And they didn’t miss a beat, going straight from The Dream Police album into a second set filled with a steady stream of crowd pleasers.

   Anybody who has been to a Cheap Trick show knows it only gets better when you come away with a coveted Cheap Trick guitar pick. The highlight of MY night happened when Rick skillfully pointed one in my direction and flicked it right at me. At first I wondered why on Earth he was throwing pop corn, but I looked in my lap, saw the pick, and knew I’d struck Cheap Trick gold. Then he smiled at me and for a split second I was 17.

If you’re thinking you’ll wait until the boys from Rockford head this way for festival season, I’d say the show is well worth the price of a ticket now. You don’t have to jockey for standing room only or settle for a warm beer out of a plastic cup and you get all the Bombastic stuff thrown in, too.

When they ripped into Surrender to close the show I was on my feet with the rest of the crowd singing out the words at the top of my lungs. It’s an anthem that hits home way more now than I thought it did back in 1978. And I realized it was pretty cool that the band who took the world by storm from Boise to Budokan. . . was right there with me.

Details: Shows are scheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26. For ticket pricing and availability go to paysbig.com.

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